Puppet MastersS


Email and Web Use 'To Be Monitored' Under New UK Laws

laptop, computer
© unknownThe actual content of emails, calls and text messages could only be accessed with a warrant
The government will be able to monitor the calls, emails, texts and website visits of everyone in the UK under new legislation set to be announced soon.

Internet firms will be required to give intelligence agency GCHQ access to communications on demand, in real time.

The Home Office says the move is key to tackling crime and terrorism, but civil liberties groups have criticised it.

Attempts by the last Labour government to take similar steps failed after huge opposition, including from the Tories.

A new law - which may be announced in the forthcoming Queen's Speech in May - would not allow GCHQ to access the content of emails, calls or messages without a warrant.

But it would enable intelligence officers to identify who an individual or group is in contact with, how often and for how long.

Bizarro Earth

China Arrests Over Coup Rumours

© unknownThe internet rumours have spooked China's top leadership
Chinese police have arrested six people and shut 16 websites after rumours were spread that military vehicles were on the streets of Beijing, officials say.

The web posts were picked up last week by media outlets around the world, amid uncertainty caused by the ouster of top political leader Bo Xilai.

The State Internet Information Office (SIIO) said the rumours had a "very bad influence on the public".

Two popular microblogs have temporarily stopped users from posting comments.

The two sites, Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo, are still letting people post to their own sites. But they said commenting on other people's posts would be disabled between 31 March and 3 April, so they "could act to stop the spread of rumours".

A spokesman for the SIIO told state news agency Xinhua earlier that the two websites had been "criticised and punished accordingly".

He added that that a number of other people had been "admonished or educated".


Mohamed Merah's Family Denies He Was Toulouse, France Gunman

French police/Toulouse
© Reuters
The family of Mohamed Merah, whom French police accused of carrying out a wave of deadly shootings in Toulouse and Montauban between March 11 and 19, has emphatically denied that he was a terrorist or carried out the killings. Merah was killed by an elite police unit after a 32-hour siege of his flat last Thursday.

His half-brother Rachid Merah, who lives in Algeria, told FranceInfo television: "I have no idea of what the media and the politicians are talking about. They say that Mohammed has been in Afghanistan and Pakistan and that he was in contact with Al Qaeda. But I categorically deny it. And I doubt whether he has had any links with Al Qaeda or the Taliban or any terrorist organisation in the world. And proof of that is that France killed him before he could speak in court, when they could have caught him alive."

Rachid Merah's comments come after similar questions were raised by police experts, such as Claude Prouteau of the Intervention Group of the National Gendarmerie (GIGN), who noted that the special police unit that killed Merah could easily have captured him alive. Instead, the police stormed Merah's flat and killed him in a hail of nearly 300 bullets. During the siege, Interior Minister Claude Guéant nonetheless had asserted that everything would be done to capture Merah alive, so he could stand trial.

Commenting on the weapons and videos of the shooting that police reportedly found in Merah's flat, Rachid Merah referred to well-publicized reports that Merah was functioning as an informer for French intelligence: "But as for the weapons we can suppose that he was manipulated by the French secret services, because he was young and easily influenced. They could well have bought him. They used him then they killed him. All scenarios are possible. Who can prove that Mohamed Merah filmed the videos [of the shootings] himself? It could well be someone else."


Gaza Man Killed by Soldiers as Thousands Protest Israel Policy

© The Associated Press/ScheinerIsraeli police officers detain a Palestinian man outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, Friday, March 30.

Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian protester in Gaza on Friday as thousands in the Palestinian territories, Israel and neighboring countries participated in an annual protest against the Jewish state's land policies.

Security forces in riot gear deployed in high numbers along the frontiers of Israel and the Palestinian territories in anticipation of a repeat of last year's violence, in which at least 38 people died near the borders with Lebanon and Syria.

But for the most part, protests were small and organizers kept demonstrators from actually marching on the borders.

The "Land Day" rallies are an annual event marked by Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in the West Bank andGaza who protest what they say are discriminatory Israeli land policies.

Gaza health official Adham Abu Salmia said Israeli forces shot and killed Mahmoud Zaqout, 21, and critically wounded another man as they were approaching the Israel-Gaza border during a demonstration of a few thousand people organized by the territory's Hamas rulers.

Bizarro Earth

U.S. Drone Strike Kills 4 Militants in North-Western Pakistan

© Reuters
Miranshah, Pakistan - U.S. drone strike killed four suspected militants and wounded three others on Friday in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border, intelligence officials and militants said.

The remotely piloted aircraft targeted a residential compound used by militants in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, a Pakistan Taliban commander told Reuters.

"The four dead are local Taliban militants," an intelligence official told Reuters.

The controversial drone program, a key element in U.S. counter-terrorism efforts, is highly unpopular in Pakistan, where it is considered a violation of sovereignty which causes many civilian casualties.

War Whore

Israel 'does Azerbaijan airbase deal' in plan to attack Iran

Americans may have leaked news in effort to stop Israelis carrying out their threats

Israel's military may have negotiated access to strategically placed air bases in Azerbaijan that could be used in an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, US officials have said.

The unconfirmed report in Foreign Policy magazine suggested deepening co-operation between Israel and the Caucasian republic, which shares a border with Iran. It said that Israel and Azerbaijan secured a $1.6bn arms deal in February, which included the pledged sale of drones and anti-aircraft missile systems to Baku.

"The Israelis have bought an airfield, and the airfield is called Azerbaijan," an unnamed senior US administration official was quoted as saying.

Comment: Lets assume for a moment that the US indeed leaked the news to discourage Israel from attacking Iran, out of fear that the American military would be forced to get involved. This implies, among other things, that the American imperial machine is out of control, since it is so easy for a small and troublesome nation to push it into a war it would rather not have at the moment. Then again, is this not what Israel does best, i.e. manipulate others into fighting its expansionist wars?


Santorum Gets Angry and Profane on the Campaign Trail

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum's blowup at New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny.

Heart - Black

Israeli forces fire tear gas at Palestinians as Land Day turns violent

© Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
Israeli security forces fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to break up groups of Palestinian stone-throwers on Friday as annual Land Day rallies turned violent.

Palestinian activists have called for a "Global March to Jerusalem" to mark the day when Israeli Arabs protest against government policies that they say has stripped them of land.

Arab news channel Al Jazeera reported in a live blog on its website that the Israeli army was "pushing protesters back towards Ramallah with the use of tear gas and water cannons".

It also reported that there are close to 1,000 protestors gathered in Ramallah.

Israeli forces were put on high alert at frontier crossings with Lebanon and Syria but there were no reports of any protesters nearing the border fences, unlike last year when several demonstrators were killed there in Land Day protests.

Comment: And the cycle of violence continues.

Bad Guys

FDA Deletes 1 Million Signatures for GMO Labeling Campaign

Just Label It infographic
© Just Label It
While the Food and Drug Administration has seemingly reached the limit for unbelievable behavior, the company's decisions continue to astound and appall consumers and health activists alike.

In the agency's latest decision, undoubtedly amazing thousands of individuals yet again, the FDA virtually erased 1 million signatures and comments on the 'Just Label It' campaign calling for the labeling of genetically modified foods.

The 'Just Label It" campaign has gotten more signatures than any campaign in history for the labeling of genetically modified foods. Since October of 2011, the campaign has received over 900,000 signatures, with 55 politicians joining in on the movement. So what's the problem here?

Evidently, the FDA counts the amount of signatures not by how many people signed, but how many different individual letters are brought to it. To the FDA, even tens of thousands of signatures presented on a single petition are counted as - you guessed it - a single comment.

This is how, despite over a million supporters being gathered by the petition, the FDA concluded a count of only 394.
'This is an election year and there are more than a million people who say this is important to them. This petition has nothing to do with whether or genetically modified foods are dangerous. We don't label dangerous foods, we take them off the shelves. This petition is about a the citizens' right to know what they are eating and whether or not these foods represent a novel change.' said Andrew Kimbrell an attorney for the Center for Food Safety, one of the partner groups on the Just Label It campaign.


Japan will Intercept North Korean Rocket if Threatened

Japan army
© The Associated Press/Itsuo InouyeIn this March 29, 2009 file photo, PAC-3 land-to-air missiles are deployed at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo as part of Japan's military mobilization to protect the country from any threat if North Korea's looming rocket launch fails.
Japan's defense minister Friday ordered missile units to intercept a long-range rocket expected to be launched by North Korea if the rocket or its fragments threaten to hit Japan.

The Unha-3 rocket is expected to fly past western Japan after its launch from North Korea's west coast sometime between April 12 and 16. The plan has raised concerns that a failed launch, or a falling stage of the rocket, could endanger Japanese lives or property.

Friday's order from Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka came at a meeting of Japan's national security council and followed earlier instructions for the military to prepare to intercept the rocket if it enters Japanese territory.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura urged people to stay calm, saying the military is preparing "just in case.

"We don't believe anything would fall over Japan's territory. Please carry out your daily lives and business as usual," he said.

A statement from the Defense Ministry said Japan would send destroyers equipped with Aegis missile defense systems to the Pacific and East China Sea and deploy mobile Patriot missile launchers in Okinawa. An interceptor missile unit is also likely to be deployed in Tokyo, although the capital is far from the expected flight path.